20 ways to avoid using the word “Very”

Writing is a very wise sagacious exercise. One writes to emote their thoughts, ideas and concepts to the world. But, there are few words which hinder the flow of it when one reads and actually are considered as a cliche in writing.

I recently read about the wrong in using the word “very”  in our sentences and in particular, our writing! Well, this notion is not an amendment to English Writing in the 21st Century, but was considered a loophole in effective writing since ages. There are few quotes which verify this idea and are stated below:

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain”

“‘Very’ is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen. ~Florence King”

“So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays. ~N.H. Kleinbaum”

After reading this, some may immediately think of not using this word in their future writings and consider this word nothing more than extinct. But! Think.. why was this word invented in the first place, when it does nothing, but damage the meaning of sentences?

Let us find out its origin.

The word “very” is an adjective part of speech. It can also be treated as an adverb and was invented in the 13th Century, originating from a few languages like,

  • Anglo-French word verrai,
  • Old French word verai which means “true, truthful, sincere; right, just, legal,” from Vulgar Latin*veracus,
  • Latin word verax (genitive veracis) which means “truthful,” from verus “true” (source also of Italian vero),
  • PIE root *were-o- which means “true, trustworthy” (cf. Old English wær “a compact,” Old Dutch, Old High German war, Dutch waar, German wahr “true;” Welsh gwyr, Old Irish fir “true;” Old Church Slavonic vera “faith,” Russian viera “faith, belief”).

But later, it was considered as a not-so-useful word for English Literature. The reason behind this are many. One reason was the use of synonyms or newer defined words which sounded better than using this word.

By now, I think the picture is clear about why and how the word came into existence, how it started losing its significance and how eventually, it is disregarded.

On a lighter note, the demise of “very” give us the usage of apt and neat words for phrasing our sentences. Let me now list out 20 ways in which one can avoid using the word- very.

45 ways to avoid using the word ‘very’
Avoid Saying very: Rather say: Avoid Saying very: Rather say:
afraid terrified neat immaculate
angry furious old ancient
bad atrocious poor destitute
beautiful exquisite pretty beautiful
big immense quite silent
bright dazzling risky perilous
capable accomplished roomy spacious
clean spotless rude vulgar
clever brilliant serious solemn
cold freezing small tiny

6 thoughts on “20 ways to avoid using the word “Very”

  1. A great post. I enjoyed it very much (just kidding) – I enjoyed it tremendously! It’s definitely food for thought. I’ll go back and reflect on my use of the word. I’ve noticed that I use it when giving thanks i.e. thank you very much. I could substitute with ‘sincerest thanks’ or ‘thanks a million’ – you get the picture 🙂


  2. Please find a way to get this article in the hands of President Trump! I am “damn, damn” exhausted with his use of the word! As a now retired high school and college level English teacher, many of the “blood marks” left on my students’ papers were centered around the overuse and unnecessary use of the word – “very.”

    Liked by 1 person

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